Weekly docetaxel versus docetaxel/gemcitabine in the treatment of elderly or poor performance status patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer

A randomized phase 3 trial of the Minnie Pearl Cancer Research Network


  • John D. Hainsworth, David R. Spigel, and F. Anthony Greco receive research funds from Sanofi-Aventis. David R. Spigel has also received honoraria from Sanofi-Aventis.



The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of single-agent weekly docetaxel with the combination of docetaxel and gemcitabine in elderly and/or poor performance status patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC).


Previously untreated patients with stage IIIB/IV NSCLC who were either >65 years old or had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status 2 were eligible. Patients were randomized to receive weekly docetaxel (36 mg/m2) Days 1, 8, and 15 or docetaxel (30 mg/m2)/gemcitabine (800 mg/m2) Days 1, 8, and 15. Both regimens were repeated on 28-day cycles for 6 cycles or until disease progression.


Three hundred fifty patients were randomized, and 345 received treatment. The median age of patients was 74 years; 38% were >75 years old, and 35% had ECOG performance status 2. Intent-to-treat analysis showed median survivals of 5.5 months versus 5.1 months in the groups receiving docetaxel/gemcitabine versus weekly docetaxel, respectively (P = .65). There were no survival differences detected with docetaxel/gemcitabine versus weekly docetaxel in the 223 patients with good performance status (7.2 months vs 8.0 months, respectively) or in the 122 poor performance status patients (3.8 months vs 2.9 months, respectively). Median time-to-progression was longer in patients who received docetaxel/gemcitabine (4.8 months vs 2.9 months; P = .004). Both regimens were generally well tolerated.


Treatment with docetaxel/gemcitabine produced a modest improvement in time-to-progression but had no impact on survival when compared with single-agent weekly docetaxel in this group of patients. Results with both regimens were disappointing, particularly in patients with poor performance status. Improved treatment for these patients will require the introduction of novel, well-tolerated, targeted agents. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.